Monday, April 30, 2012

Day Six - A Fish Massaged At Sea

On our way back to the Wellesley Wednesday night we ran into the owner (or so we thought) of a little red boat.  Birch was dying to snorkel out in the channel where all the big fish hangout.  You could pay the resort an arm and leg and they would haul you out there but we were sure we could find someone local to take us out for much cheaper.  After a bit of negotiating Birch arranged for the red boat to pick up the four of us at our resort at 7:30 am Thursday morning for $10 Fijian. Score!!!
The next morning on Fijian time (always relaxed and late) these two guys came up to our shore ready to take us out.  Apparently the guy that made the deal with Birch was not the owner of the boat but a friend of the owner.  These two nice Fijian-Indians were happy to take us snorkeling while they spear fished in the channel.
Click here to watch:

As we were leisurely pushed out to sea the two guys started telling us how we had to be REALLY careful to not go out of the channel or we could be pulled to sea.  My mom and I started to get a little nervous.  Birch and my dad jumped right in (since we only had two pairs of snorkel gear my mom and I decided to stay in the boat and wait to trade with the boys).  We told the guys that they could go ahead and start fishing and we would just enjoy watching them.  They started talking in their native language and then told us that they were going to stay right there and not fish because they would get in big trouble if something happened to my dad and Birch.  They went on to tell us that a while ago they had taken out a husband and wife and they had been pulled to sea.  The guys had to go back to the resort to get a bigger boat to rescue them.  The couple ended up being fine but were exhausted. the time it was my turn to snorkel I wasn't feeling so excited anymore. 
Birch held my hand the whole time while we swam around.  I got a little panicky as the water got REALLY deep and the fish got really big.  The Fijian-Indian guys told us that if we saw sharks to just turn around and go the other way.  Needless to say, I didn't last too long before I was ready to hop back in the boat.  It was a cool experience but I think I've decided I am more of a shallow water snorkel kind of girl.  As we all loaded back in the boat the guys asked us who was paying the rest of the money.  After some broken English being passed back and forth we realized that they thought we were paying them $10 Fijian/each person.  We did a little negotiating (especially because we were just about out of Fijian money) and settled on $30 for the four of us.  Still a great deal but not as awesome as we originally had thought.
The day before we had seen a little sign at a hut in the nearby village for a Fijian Massage for $40 Fijian/hour.  Massage on the beach...YES PLEASE!!! 
As you can see I did get sun burned from my hour of snorkeling the day before.  This was even with a heavy dose of sunscreen.  I can't imagine what I might have looked like had we had more beach time.

After Mary washed my feet she gave me a wonderful massage.  It was less private then I am used to -- like her son kept coming up and talking to her in Fijian.  I was imagining all sorts of comments that they were saying about this partially naked white girl.  I just kept reminding myself that Mary has "no worries" and neither should I.  The half and hour flew by (my mom and I split the hour massage).  I'd do it again in a heart beat.
Need I say more?
Birch and I soaking up our last bit of beach time before heading back to Nadi.
I LOVE SARA!!! (I'm sure that is what he was thinking)
The only people we really saw on the beach were the locals collecting coconuts that would fall down at night.  So different thinking about their daily life chores/jobs compared to us.

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
I feel blessed to have been raised by such wonderful parents.  I love how they interact with my children and are such wonderful examples of Christlike service.
Trying to suck in every last scent of my FAVORITE flower -- in Hawaii we call this flower a Plumeria.  In Fiji these are called Frangipani flowers.  I LOVE THEM!!  I have a plant of them in my bathroom that has not yet bloomed -- it's been six years.  I'm not giving up!

After packing up our stuff from the resort we stared driving toward Nadi.  We stopped in Sigatoka to do some last minute shopping.  This man really wanted to welcome us in the true Fijian way -- a kava ceremony.  We explained to him that we didn't drink kava and he said, "No worries my brother drink your kava."  After making Birch Chief  and singing some chants they drank up the kava.  Birch ended up buying a beautiful Bula Shirt (like Hawaiian shirt) from this little shop.
We arrived at Denarau Island, just about 20 minutes from Nadi, just in time for Birch to cross off his last Fijian Bucket List item -- golfing with my dad at the Westin Resort.  They knew they were cutting it really close for having enough time to do a full course so they dropped off my mom and I at the resort and ran over to the golf registration desk.  The guy told Birch that they needed button-up shirts in order to golf at this course.  Birch said, "No problem," and ran out to the truck and dug in his suitcase for a button-up shirt.  When he got back the guy said, "you need closed toed shoes to play at this course."  Ugh...they only had flip flops and sandals.  The guy ended up throwing in two pairs of golf shoes and Birch and my dad were off.
So sharp looking!  The two had such a good time golfing and did it all on turbo speed.  By the end of the time they could barely see their ball...though it sounds like light wasn't their only problem.  They lost four of their six balls in the water.
Birch gets a kick out of this photo every time he looks at it -- yikes...apparently his form is horrendous.
Indosesian Waxy Ginger Flower
Banana Tree
We were kind of torn at where to eat that night at the Westin Resort.  The food was spendy but we didn't really want to drive back into Nadi (plus most everything closes really early).  We decided to go ahead and eat at the resort's restaurant and it turned out to be a great decision.  This is one of my favorite photos from the trip -- how can you not laugh?!!  My dad looks like he is in HEAVEN eating every last morsel of that red snapper fish.  Each of us LOVED our meals and I'm thinking my mom and dad might make it back there for dinner of one of their trips to Nadi.  Before our arrival they had not eaten out anywhere that they really enjoyed.  So nice to have somewhere to splurge at every once in a while.
The Westin Resort was gorgeous and very well kept up.  It was pricey ($210/night Fijian) so we shared a room with my parent's that night.  The bed was so luxurious but I slept horrible in fear that we would wake up late and miss our early morning flight to New Zealand.  But who can't fall asleep smiling after seeing a sight like this

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day Five: A Dip Into Paradise

If I'm remembering right Wednesday morning was the only morning that we had nothing planned early on so we enjoyed lounging in bed and reading.  While in Fiji I read five books on my new kindle and Birch even read several books himself.  The Wellesley had a nice outdoor dining area where we enjoyed our breakfast.
 When our waitress gave us our menu she said we could pick anything from it (breakfast was included as part of our reservation).  Everything looked tasty but to only pick a couple of things it didn't look like it would be very satisfying.  So we said, "Could we have one of everything?"  "No worries," was her reply and she left.  We weren't sure if that meant she had understood our request or if we had had another foreign language blunder.  Sure enough breakfast started coming out and filling our whole table.  We had decided that we were going to skip lunch to save money so we ate our breakfast as late as possible and obviously wanted to be full. 
 Our portions were quite small so we didn't feel quite as piggy as we gobbled up everything (fresh fruit platter, pancakes (so yummy), toast, juice, yogurt, and muslix (which reminded me of the reindeer food that we make for our kids to feed the Santa's reindeer). 
We never actually swam or hung out at the pool as the beach was just as close and so peaceful.

 More reading...more lounging
 Since we skipped lunch we all snacked on greenish yellow tangerines and peanut butter and bread (I ate more peanut butter and bread on this trip than I have since I was a kid).
My parents haven't read a novel since they have been on their mission.  As a senior couple they were allowed to vacation with us while we were visiting so they added a novel into their daily scripture reading.  What a fun way to indulge yourself!
Birch and my dad decided they were going to kayak out past the break and then go snorkeling.  It was really windy so the rowing was tough.  Once they got out to the reef break they decided that maybe it wouldn't be so smart to go beyond (if we wanted them to come back in one piece).  Water is just so powerful!  My dad rowed back by himself and Birch snorkeled back into shore.

Before leaving on our trip I got a killer deal on a waterproof video camera from  Check out this fun video of Birch and myself snorkeling.  The sound that you hear toward the beginning that kind of sounds like a dolphin is me trying to get Birch's attention.
Hang loose!
My parents wanted to teach us how to shred a coconut.  Using this sharp tool Birch was able to shred this coconut in no time at all.  It was delicious!  Unfortunately I didn't feel so good after eating it, though.  My stomach is real sensitive to high fatty foods so I'm guessing it just didn't sit well.  My parents regularly buy coconuts and shred them to add to recipes -- a favorite is a cinnamon rolls filled with fresh shaved coconut. We brought home one of those tools so I am excited to try out that recipe.
 That evening we decided to walk down to another resort for our dinner at the Crusoe's Resort.  The cost of the meals at the resorts were expensive (around $35-45 Fijian -- so like $17-20 US).  We really liked how small our resort was but thought it would be fun to check out another resort for dinner.  The two resorts are probably half of a mile apart; between those two resorts there is a little village.  It was CRAZY how right next to our nice resort was this little primitive village.  The children were so friendly to us while we would walk by their backyards...the beach.  Both afternoons there were about seven kids all running around in their underwear.  I kept thinking how this is totally normal for them everyday.  Birch and my dad were playing frisbee while we were walking to the Crusoe and tossed it to the kids.  Check out that boy's height!  
We soon learned that we were interrupting their after-school jobs -- unloading drift wood from the boat. Now that job sounds much more fun then dusting!
On the way back home there were a group of guys (probably 17 - 25 years old) that invited Birch and my dad to join in on a game of rugby.
Nice moves!  I think Birch and my dad loved their 15 minutes of being "native."
A beautiful close to a wonderful day!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day Four - Tarzan goes to the beach

Wednesday morning started early with a morning session at the Suva temple.  We enjoyed the peace at the temple and being together with my parents.
That sulu Birch was wearing sure turned me on.
Beautiful morning!
So that's where I got my good looks from...
Suva, Fiji Temple was opened in the year 2000.  Elder Earl M. Monson of the Seventy presidency presided at the temple's groundbreaking services. "It will be a privilege for many of you to watch as the temple grows from where we are today to a beautiful structure on this scenic hillside," he said to those gathered at the event. He said the temple will stand as a reminder of the intention God has for families to be eternal. "It will be wonderful for mothers and fathers to be able to point to this temple and say that this is where we were sealed for eternity and their families will have a sense of peace and assurance that will help them through difficult times."
The church owns two schools on Viti Levu.  We drove by the LDS Primary School -- these kids were so excited for Birch to take their picture.  The LDS Church College is also right by the temple and the grounds are just beautiful.  It reminded me so much of the BYU-Hawaii campus.
After packing up our stuff in Suva we loaded the truck and headed an hour away to Zip Fiji.  This was a more expensive splurge ($104/person Fijian money or about $50/person US $) but SO worth it!!!  There are eight zip lines that take you over the forest floor and the Wainadoi River valley.  What an awesome way to really experience the Fijian canopy!
WOW -- none of us had ever done a zip line so we were all a little nervous (well, at least I was).
Our zip line guides were hilarious!   The canopy "tour" was designed by some Canadian guys that wanted to make an Eco-friendly zip line.  The platforms were hanging using suspension.
SCARY!!  I squealed like a little pig the whole time.  My mom flew down with such grace and never said a peep.
Birch was like a monkey and would take pictures and film while flying down the line.
Such a fun and memorable experience!!!

Next stop was to the Wellesley Resort where we stayed the next two nights.  The Wellesley is located on the Coral Coast which is known for its' beautiful pristine waters.  The resort is located on 100 acres of beautiful manicured gardens, wonderful beach, tasty food, and very tranquil environment.  I think there were only like four couples staying there so it was so peaceful.  We hardly ever saw anyone on the beach so it all felt so private.   The rooms were nice and the price was excellent (about $65/night US $).  Gotta love that Fijian/US money conversion!

These flowers smelled DIVINE!!!

Check out that awesome smile and the beautiful colored fish!  This guy had just gotten back from spear fishing. 
Birch having a little kayaking fun.
So in love!!!
Birch caught me walking back from a little walk on the beach.  Heaven has got to be a beach...right?!!
Just as we head in for the night the fisherman all start heading out to spear fish with flashlights.

This picture is exactly how I felt at the end of peace.  Fridge leaking water and ruining our wood worries; internet went out and hired a guy to fix worries.  All my cankers that I had flown to Fiji with were all gone...I was at peace.